Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CIPFG WANTS ATHLETES TO WEAR YELLOW RIBBONS AT THE OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONIES IN BEIJING

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release - April 11, 2008

Authored by CIPFG
Contact: Clive Ansley
Chair, Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong
China Country Monitor for Lawyers' Rights Watch in Canada
250-334-3586; 250-792-3547

CIPFG IS CALLING ON THE CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
TO URGE ATHLETES TO WEAR YELLOW RIBBONS
AT THE OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONIES IN BEIJING

in support of Falun Gong practitioners persecuted in China and other oppressed groups

VANCOUVER ISLAND - In light of the recent escalation of the persecution of Falun Gong, including mass arrests amounting to almost 2000 practitioners since January 1, CIPFG has serious concerns about China's on-going oppression of Tibetans and Christians as well as other oppressed groups. "We believe that those human rights abuses are in direct conflict with the Olympic charter and this urgently needs to be addressed before August 2008," said Clive Ansley, chair of CIPFG. "It is becoming clearer that Beijing has overlooked the most fundamental basis of the Olympic charter-to increase international friendship."

In a recent letter to the Canadian Olympic Committee, CIPFG stated their concerns and requested that the Committee urge Canadian athletes to wear yellow ribbons at the opening and closing ceremonies of the games--symbolizing freedom of religion and freedom of expression. "This small moral contribution on the part of Canadian athletes would send a message of hope and justice along with a reminder to the Olympic host that they broke their 2001-promise to improve human rights and that we are still hoping for positive change," Ansley added. Olympic Watch explained that the IOC should affirm explicitly that peaceful promotion of human rights at Olympic venues is in no way in contradiction to the Olympic Charter.

CIPFG hopes that the International Human Rights Torch Relay it launched in Athens last August will not only help to stop these terrible crimes against humanity but will protect the integrity of the Olympic spirit for the greater good of humanity.

The Human Rights torch is anticipated to arrive in Halifax on May 4 and will travel to 10 cities to finish its trek in Vancouver on May 25. Thus far it has been to more than 25 countries as part of its international torch run and is expected to travel to 37 countries in all. Dates for the Canada route are: Halifax-May 4, Quebec-May 8, Winnipeg-May 9, Montreal-May 10, Ottawa-May 14, Toronto-May 17, Kingston-May 18, Calgary-May 19, Edmonton-May 21, Vancouver-May 25, 2008
http://www.humanrightstorch.org


The full text of the letter follows below:

11 April 2008

Canadian Olympic Committee
To All Members of the COC
21 St.Clair Avenue E., Suite 900
Toronto, ON M4T 1L9
via Fax: (416) 967-4902

Dear members of the Canadian Olympic Committee:

While Beijing, as host of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, currently focuses its energy on security, smog problems, and keeping the torch flame alive on its world tour, it has clearly overlooked the most fundamental purpose of the Olympic charter-to increase international friendship.

In light of the recent escalation in the persecution of Falun Gong, including the arrest of almost 2000 practitioners since January 1, 2008, CIPFG has serious concerns about China's on-going oppression of Tibetans and Christians as well as other faith based groups. All these human rights abuses are in direct contradiction to the Olympic Charter and this contradiction urgently needs to be addressed before August 2008.

As a starting point, we believe that in order to meet the minimal standard of Olympic ideals the host nation must terminate its nine-year policy of genocide against Falun Dafa, cease the illegal incarceration of dissidents in Chinese gulags, cease the capricious and ubiquitous executions of "criminals", cease the systematic persecution of all independent religious groups, and above all end the mass murder of healthy Chinese citizens for the sole purpose of facilitating the theft of their organs. Amnesty International's website states that it had "…hoped that the Games would act as a catalyst for reform but much of the current wave of repression against activists and journalists is occurring not in spite of, but actually because of the Olympics. (See AI report entitled China: The Olympics Countdown - Crackdown on Activists Threatens OlympicsLlegacy".)

We suggest that the COC urge Canadian athletes to wear yellow ribbons at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games--symbolizing freedom of religion and freedom of expression. This small moral contribution on the part of Canadian athletes would send a message of hope and justice along with a reminder to the Olympic host of its cynical trashing of the 2001 promise to improve human rights and the fact that the world still hopes for positive change.

In response to comments made by the IOC on April 10, Olympic Watch said that the IOC should explicitly affirm that peaceful promotion of human rights at Olympic venues is in no way in contradiction to the Olympic Charter.

In closing, we would like to address the oft-repeated sacred mantra of the International Olympic Committee that the Games are "non-political", that the Games are exclusively about sport, and that "politics" should be kept entirely separate from sport.

This mantra, of course, is quite simply false as a matter of historical fact and the fallacy of the position is illustrated by simple reference to Articles 1 and 2 of the Olympic charter itself. For Beijing, hosting the 2008 Summer Games has from the outset been about nothing other than politics! In the great tradition of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Beijing has used the recognition and honour of hosting the Games to shower glory upon itself and convince China's citizens that the international community accepts and approves of the regime's repressions. But the IOC's sacred mantra on separating "politics" from sport must be addressed on a deeper level and recognized for its inherently dishonest logic and for its moral bankruptcy.

At the municipal level, argument over whether a new river crossing should take the form of a bridge or a tunnel is "political"; at the provincial level, argument over whether religious schools should receive public funding is "political"; at the federal level, arguments for and against free trade agreements are "political".

The attempt to relegate Crimes Against Humanity, ranking with the Holocaust, to the same level as the "political" issues set out in the preceding paragraph is frankly obscene. All over the world, decent people of conscience who uphold basic moral standards are demanding that bestial, benighted, barbaric murderers and torturers not be rewarded for their Crimes Against Humanity. Are their actions and statements "political"? If so, then all moral human activity must be dismissed as "political".

To speak out against genocide, forced organ harvesting, and torture is not "politics"; it is just basic human decency;

To speak out against genocide, forced organ harvesting, and torture is not "politics"; it is just fundamental morality;

To speak out against genocide, forced organ harvesting, and torture is not "politics"; it is just the civilizational norm of non-barbarians.

We recognize that from 1936 to 2008 the International Olympic Committee has courageously resisted all appeals based on decency or conscience, but surely the IOC cannot sustain its current argument that to hold the host country to the most basic principles of the Olympic Charter as set out in Articles 1 and 2 would be "political".

When the IOC awarded the 2008 Games to China in 2001, Beijing signed a pledge that it would in return improve the human rights situation in China and that significant changes would occur before 2008. Significant changes in human rights have indeed occurred, but those changes have not constituted improvements. On the contrary, every international human rights organization has documented the steady deterioration of human rights in China since 2001. Ironically, there have in fact been massive human violations occurring directly because of the Games, as thousands of Beijing residents have been rendered homeless, as their homes have been demolished without compensation to make way for Olympic construction. But if we understand the IOC's position correctly, holding Beijing to the promises it made in order to procure the 2008 Summer Games would be "political".

The Olympic Charter forbids discrimination against any individual or group on the basis of race, creed, or religious belief. (Strictly speaking, this would probably be construed as a "political" statement.) But Hitler forbade the participation of any German Jews in the Nazi Olympics of 1936. The courage of the IOC perhaps reached its zenith at this juncture; the IOC made a request to Hitler that he include one Jew on the German Olympic team, in order to assuage the international outcry against this injection of Nazi racism into the Games. Hitler refused. Many historians might be forgiven for thinking that the IOC's meek, hat-in-hand approach to Hitler, though patently ineffectual, was nevertheless a "political" action.

Today, Beijing has prohibited participation in or attendance at the Games by any adherent of the spiritual group, Falun Gong. That prohibition, too, has a definite odour of "politics". Perhaps more important, it is a flagrant transgression of the Olympic Charter. But the IOC has studiously avoided pointing out this most fundamental of transgressions, apparently in the belief that to do so would be "political".

Torsten Trey is the spokesperson for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. He is also a German citizen and very conscious of his country's Nazi past. He has recently argued that the situation in China today is worse than that in Nazi Germany in 1936. He has also pointed out that the moral position of the IOC and all who support the 2008 Games in Beijing is substantially more indefensible than was that of their forerunners in 1936. This is because in 1936 the world was not aware of Hitler's planned genocide against the Jews. After the gates of Belsen, Dachau, and Auchwitz were opened, the whole world said "Never Again!" "If only we had known!" 2008 is different in that this time we won't be able to say later, "If only we had known!" We do know! The Matas/Kilgour report, "Bloody Harvest", leaves no reasonable doubt that for the past seven years, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been systematically murdered on the operating tables of Chinese hospitals so that their hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs, corneas, and even skin could be harvested and transplanted for profit. The Matas/Kil-gour report would meet any legal standard of probative evidence.

The United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, has recognized the validity of this report and of the reality of Chinese organ theft from Falun Gong practitioners. Moreover, the Beijing regime has been quite open about is determination to completely eliminate Falun Gong practitioners from Chinese society.

But the IOC equates these huge moral issues to "political" debates over fiscal policy and traffic control. We look forward to meeting with you to address these issues.

Sincerely,

Clive Ansley, Chair
Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG)
China Country Monitor for Lawyers' Rights Watch in Canada


Background:

CIPFG was established in 2006 to investigate the largest and most extensive human rights violation in China today, the persecution of the spiritual group of Falun Gong. Countless followers of Falun Gong have suffered serious abuses at the hands of the Beijing regime since the persecution started in 1999.

At least 3,145 practitioners are confirmed to have been killed in the persecution of Falun Gong. The real number of deaths and other casualties is undoubtedly substantially higher. It must be understood that this figure refers only to those victims for whose deaths in custody we have been able to obtain full documentary, photographic, or eyewitness proof. Scores of thousands of practitioners have simply disappeared without trace after being taken from their homes by police. Moreover, Matas and Kilgour have established that there have been more than 40,000 transplant operations in China involving organs from unknown sources. Additionally, there is a large margin of waste in the "harvesting" process, since all the organs are removed from each "donor", and some cannot be used in time. Hence while a foreign organ tourist may receive only one kidney from a freshly murdered "donor", the heart, lungs, liver, and second kidney will also have been removed. In short, then number of victims could easily be in the area of 100,000.
In March 2006 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture stated that 66% of all alleged torture victims in China were Falun Gong practitioners. Another UN report states: "The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts of torture defy description."
The US State Department 2006 Annual Report indicated that Falun Gong adherents may constitute "half of the 250,000 officially recorded inmates in reeducation-through-labor camps," while the real number could be much higher.

According to an independent report by Hon. David Kilgour and well-known human rights lawyer David Matas, over 40,000 human organ transplants have been unaccounted for in China in six years. Every arrested Falun Gong practitioner is immediately tested for blood and tissue type and this information is fed into computer databases. When a foreign organ tourist books into a Chinese hospital for a transplant operation, a healthy prisoner is selected by computer on the basis of blood and tissue compatibility with the "customer", and the prisoner is killed for "parts".

1,878 Falun Gong practitioners were reported to have been arrested in the first two months of 2008, clearly another attempt to stamp out the spiritual group before the Olympics.

CIPFG hopes that the International Human Rights Torch Relay it launched in Athens last August will not only help to stop these terrible crimes but will protect the integrity of the Olympic spirit for the greater good of humanity.

Human Rights Torch

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